Social Security Administration - Administrative Budget

(known as "Limitation on Administrative Expenses" or LAE)

Why the Program is Needed

The Social Security system provides essential benefits to over 56 million Americans, including more than 11 million workers and retirees with disabilities, as well as their dependents and survivors. Social Security is an earned benefit funded by payroll contributions paid by workers and their employers. It insures workers and their family members for when a worker retires, dies, or becomes disabled. People with disabilities receive benefits from all three parts of the Social Security system: 1) Retirement Insurance, 2) Survivors Insurance, and 3) Disability Insurance. Additionally, the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program provides benefits to people with significant disabilities who have low income and assets. Beneficiaries with significant disabilities frequently rely on Social Security or SSI for the majority of their income. Social Security plays an important role in helping beneficiaries secure essentials such as housing, food, and medical care.

The Social Security Administration (SSA) requires adequate administrative resources to effectively administer the Social Security and SSI programs. In years where SSA has received inadequate funding for administrative costs, many people with disabilities have experienced long delays in accessing their benefits, often leading to substantial hardship. While SSA’s administrative budget (Limitation on Administrative Expenses or LAE) received several increases between 2008 and 2010, the LAE has been inadequate in recent years.

What it Does

SSA’s LAE funds operating expenses that enable SSA to perform its core administrative responsibilities, including reviewing applications for benefits in a timely manner, conducting hearings to review disputed decisions, providing customer service to applicants and beneficiaries, and ensuring that benefits continue to be distributed properly.

Authorizing Legislation

Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 401 Part g)

Recent Funding

Please see the table on the Funding for Federal Disability-related Programs page.

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